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Gift of Light by Chrysalis

Gifted girl, cursed city 

Nicoletta AKA Wisp has a gift: she shapes sunlight into floating spheres that can alert her of impending danger—which is fortunate since her home, a city tainted by the aftermath of a supervillain’s death, bears a curse. Toxic vapors rise from the sewers on hot summer days, snuffing out anything that lives at ground level.

No one is supposed live in the Dead City, but Wisp and her gang of underage runaways refused the mass evacuations, learning to live alongside the local calamity. The uncertainty of the outside world scared them even more than the dangers of their home.

Now, though, their friend Hannah has gone missing under suspicious circumstances. The deadly Smog has become increasingly unpredictable, and the crime lord in charge of the rival gang to the north is gearing up for conflict. Wisp is prepared to defend her friends and the only home she has ever known, but she and her gang are outnumbered and underequipped and her powers are not exactly suitable for combat . . . 

Note: Gift of Light contains some harsh language.

A serialized novel, updating weekly

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Listed: Jan 9, 2019

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A smaller-scale view of a dark supers world.

By Sharkerbob, author of Graven

Jan 27, 2019: Note: This story is completed in ebook form, but is being posted for free chapter by chapter on the Anathema web serial blog. I was given a copy of the completed book as part of a review swap.

Gift of Light is a smaller-scale, self-contained story set within the Anathema (aka Powered Destinies) universe. Despite being a stand-alone novel, it would really benefit the reader if they read Anathema (currently being released on Amazon as Superluminary) first, to better familiarize themselves with the setting and some of the major players in that setting who are referenced.

Overall, this is a solidly written story. Characters are distinct and have a good chemistry with one another, both between allies and enemies. I also appreciate that the main character, Wisp, has powers that are very useful, while still being small scale and of very little use in combat, making this a supers story where the hero is still very much in danger throughout; she has to use her wits and ordinary equipment to make it through dangerous situations.

I also like that the story doesn’t allow her an easy out when dealing with making hard decisions; the story is not only about survival, but about her responsibility in keeping her gang safe. While Wisp doesn’t develop as fully as the characters of Anathema, she is still a rounded character, and we get a good sense of her struggles.

After reading Anathema, it is interesting to see a smaller-scale story set within this universe. Anathema covered numerous conflicts in numerous locations across the globe, with numerous parts of the world being rocked by superhuman disasters. This book zooms in to focus on the survivors of just one of these many locations, giving us a fuller view what one of these locations is like. I think its a neat way to expand on the world, and I could see several side-stories like this being done to flesh the setting out further.

If I had a complaint it’s that, despite its short length compared to Anathema, I still felt there were parts of the story that dragged. Parts of the book seem to linger on scenes longer than necessary, and the main plot takes a while to get going. Aside from Wisp herself, the characters didn’t hook me much until the main conflict really picked up. Admittedly, I am kind an impatient guy when it comes to stories, so it could just be a matter of taste; I prefer a faster pace to a narrative.

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